We’re immensely proud of the work of our grantees around the country, and this week we sat down with Jenny Coleman, the Director of Stop It Now, one of the select organizations that have received a grant from RALIANCE, aimed at providing sexual abuse prevention training to foster care programs in CT and MA.
In our conversation, Coleman discussed Stop It Now’s mission to prevent the sexual abuse of children and how RALIANCE’s grant enabled the organization to bring circles of safety training to agencies that offer foster care.
RALIANCE: Could you tell us a little bit about what Stop It Now does, and who you serve?
Jenny Coleman: Stop It Now is a national child sex abuse prevention program. We focus on the prevention of child sex abuse, and we do that through offering a variety of services and support, and initiating conversations, both in communities and within research or advocacy.
We provide a confidential helpline for people to contact us with any question related to sexual abuse and we focus on perpetration prevention, so we seek to provide resources and guidance for folks who are looking to help prevent sexual abuse, and this includes offering support and resources to those people who may be at risk of causing sexual harm themselves.
We offer trainings in the community predominantly for youth-serving organizations on prevention for their clients and their audience, and we also maintain our website where we provide resources, tip sheets, guidebooks and our work.
We keep a collaborative approach to prevention, working together to amplify voices, whether it’s related to funding, research, equity, or anything else that is intersecting with sex abuse.
RALIANCE: What is some of the work that you’ve done to help stop and prevent the sexual abuse of children?
Coleman: We help people have difficult conversations about sensitive and sometimes painful subjects. We try to give folks tools and language and help them think about safety planning. We are helping adults talk with loved ones, teachers, neighbors and family members about safety.
We try to make sure folks have accurate information about healthy sexuality development, prevention and about the people who could abuse children, and what we can do as adults to be responsible for children’s safety.
We also hope to shift the conversation to one that helps empower people and adds a sense of hope that prevention is possible.
RALIANCE: We know that you received your RALIANCE grant in 2016. Can you tell us about some of the specific work that the grant helped support?
Coleman: We specifically brought our circles of safety training to agencies that offered foster care and work and trained both the staff and foster parents in prevention, really taking into account some of the special considerations professional caregivers have regarding safety for children and the children who have most likely experienced trauma previously, and what they still need for a safe environment for prevention.
RALIANCE: What are some of the special kinds of considerations for the foster care population?
Coleman: Folks often think that children who have already experienced trauma have already experienced sex abuse, or have other struggles in their life of all types – and so prevention is secondary to healing and recovering. But we need to still promote healthy sexual development, to help these children develop healthy relationships and to decrease the risk of further sexual abuse. For example, by helping professional caregivers help kids with the more normative activities of dating or self-care, they are creating more safety for these kids.
RALIANCE: How can people support Stop It Now?
Coleman: Check out our new project, www.whatsok.org, both a new website and helpline designed specifically for youth ages 14-21 to answer their questions about concerning sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
We are understanding sexual behaviors and interests within a developmental lens, and we are helping to give kids good information and support to prevent crossing boundaries and sexually harming someone.
There are areas on our site where you can donate to help us continue to provide our free and confidential helpline services.
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.
The RALIANCE Grant Program has supported more than 75 sexual violence prevention projects with a total of $3.2 million in grant funding from the National Football League (NFL). The majority of the grant projects funded to date were awarded to programs serving people of color, LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities, religious minorities, immigrants, young people, and others who often are heavily impacted by sexual violence yet historically overlooked by funders. Learn more at www.raliance.org/grant-program/grants.